Federal High Court judges get election break

Justice John Terhemba Tsoho, the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, announced the appointment of nine new judges for the court on Friday. These nine new judges are in addition to the 15 justices previously authorised.

The Federal High Court is taking a short break so its judges can vote in Saturday’s presidential elections and the National Assembly.

A letter signed by the Chief Judge of the court, John Tsoho, said that the break would start on Wednesday (February 22) and end on Tuesday (February 28).

A circular from February 20 said that there would be judges who would hear urgent cases from all over the country.

Under the plan, a judge will be assigned to hear urgent cases from the North, South-west, and South-south/South-east parts of the country.

“The Administrative Judges in the Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt Judicial Divisions, shall ensure that a Judge is designated to cater for the North, South-West, SouthSouth/South-East Geo-political Areas, respectively, regarding urgent matters during the period,” the circular read in part.

This Saturday, Nigerians vote for the president and the National Assembly.

Eighteen candidates want to replace President Muhammadu Buhari, whose second term ends on May 29.

Two weeks after the presidential election, on March 11, people in 28 states will vote for governor. But there will be state House of Assembly elections in all 36 of the federation’s states.

Most of the pre-election cases from last year’s primary elections held by different political parties are heard by the Federal High Court.

Due to the large number of cases that agitated politicians filed before the election, the Chief Judge put together a special task force of judges in November to ensure they were dealt with quickly.

In a circular sent out by the Chief Judge, he said that judges on the task force would stop all regular cases in their courts because the election cases had to be decided quickly.

Mr Tsoho was quoted by the court’s Assistant Director of Information, Catherine Christopher, on Wednesday as saying, “In view of the large volume of Pre-Election cases filed so far; with the imminent attendant risk of lapsing, it has become necessary to constitute a Task Force to speedily dispose of the matters, particularly in those Judicial Divisions with a glut of them.”

He said the task force members “will have four weeks to dispose of the pre-election cases.”

In July 2022, Mr Tsoho issued a practice direction on pre-election cases. He said it would, among other things, “provide for a fair, impartial and expeditious determination of pre-election cases.”

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